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Jan 31, 2007 07:28 AM

German bakeries?

Where I'm from, we grew up with dozens of traditional German Bäkerei. Cakes, more properly, tortes, at the Konditorei were spongy and layered with jammy or creamy filings and frosted with mounds of fluffy whipped cream. Except the Sachertorte and the Linzertorte; they had categories of their own.

But in NYC, every bakery seems to be Italian. Ferrara, Bruno's, Veniero's. And the cakes aren't light and creamy like they are in the Viennese bakeries. Icing is often buttercream or some sort of heavy ganache. Instead of mini Linzertorte, all I can get is sfogliatelle grossly mispronounced by the clerk behind the counter.

Certainly there must be a German/Austrian bakery somewhere in the city. In desperation I called the German consulate asking where I can find German-style cakes with flavored sponge cake and creamy frosting. That's how badly I miss these light, but rich, cakes. Other than Café Sabarsky, which is expensive and somewhat limited in scope, there's nothing besides a Swiss bakery somewhere in New Jersey. Anyone know where I can find buttery Viennese cookies or whipped cream tortes? I'm begging!

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  1. I'm afraid you might be out of luck--it's been a while since Yorkville enjoyed its Kleine Konditorien (like the one on 86th St). It seems as if these once common treats--even alas, Black Forest Cake--have all but disappeared. There are some classic pan-European spots (Payard, even Saint Ambroeus on Madison) that come close, but except for a Hungarian cafe on 2nd and 84th or so (Andre?) with OK strudel, I'm at a loss...

    1. Stork's, out in Whitestone, Queens, was characterized as a German-American bakery, and their baked goods and breads were always excellent (although I'm not sure they would meet your quest requirements). I understand they've changed hands in recent years, and I haven't been out there since then, so I can't vouch for their continuing goodness, but they might at least be worth a phone call to see if they have the sorts of cakes you're looking for. They make their own chocolate, and their cookies - both enrobed and plain - were always first rate. Otherwise, I agree with obob96 - Yorkville is a shadow of its former self. There's a Hungarian bakery near Columbia (111th and Amsterdam) that's pretty good - you might also want to check them out, too.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Striver

        Any exact ideas on the name/location of the Hungarian bakery? Maybe the cakes I grew up with her Austro-Hungarian with any luck.

        I am deeply sad that there's nowhere to get German pastries in what's supposed to be the most cosmopolitan city in the world. But I refuse to be limited to just opera cakes and various heavy Italian concoctions. Anywhere that I can get whipped cream tortes? I just miss the moist sponge cake and flavorful whipped cream fillings and frostings. These dense Italian cakes are no comparison!

        1. re: JungMann

          In fact, I think it's The Hungarian Pastry Shop or words to that effect, and, as noted, it's on 111th and Amsterdam. I don't know if it will satisfy your desires, but it's worth a try...

          1. re: Striver

            a word of warning from someone who lived right next to the hungarian pastry shop - the pastries are nasty.

            1. re: piccola

              Well, I haven't been there in quite a while, but I don't recall their goods as being other than good, and occasionally better. Things change, of course.

              1. re: piccola

                Totally agreed that it's nasty--I wouldn't even go there when I was in grad school 10+ years ago and had much lower standards. (If it gives me any added credibility, my family is Hungarian--we used to get our stuff from Rigo before it closed.) I think Andre's, as mentioned above, is much better although I've only had their strudel and rugelach. For cakes, I do like Sabarsky and Blaue Gans, although I see you're not crazy about that option.

                1. re: Calcifer

                  Hungarian Pastry Shop has excellent coffee, and TERRIBLE pastries. Which is a shame because it's such a nice place to sit down and enjoy a coffee, it would be a great spot if the cakes were better. I used to hear students raving about this place when I was a fellow student, and I thought there must be something wrong with my taste buds that I didn't like the cakes. Then my mother and I went there for coffee my sophomore year in college, and her eyes lit up when she saw they had poppy seed cake; which was promptly sent back after the first bite, it was so bad. I realized I wasn't delusional at that point, rather my friends were seduced by the atmosphere.

                  1. re: Calcifer

                    It's not that I don't want to go to Sabarsky or Blaue Gans, although I do have a slight problem with paying $50 for what is basically peasant food that I can make at home for less than a quarter of the cost, but I'm not so keen on Linzertorte and strudel. I'm looking more for whipped cream tortes, the kind that would be appropriate for a nice Kaffeeklatsch or a children's birthday party depending on the decoration on top. I suppose that's not necessarily a German specialty, but French and Italian bakeries don't seem to carry whipped cream tortes and American bakeries frost everything in sugary buttercream.

                    1. re: JungMann

                      Would you be willing to travel to Brooklyn, I know this is the Manhattan board, though. There are lots of Polish bakeries in Greenpoint and Williamsburg that make whipped cream tortes like that.

                      1. re: ballulah

                        If they're similar in texture and flavor. I've only had Pączki, so I don't even know what to expect from a Polish torte. But if I can get a moist hazelnut torte, I will take the L or the G to wherever I need!

                        1. re: JungMann

                          They are very similar in style to the Viennese, and hazelnut torte is a particular Polish favorite. My grandmother used to spend three days making her hazelnut torte, and she had a special nut grinder for it which I inherited. I was just given a whipped cream torte with fresh fruit as a holiday gift from someone who ordered it from a new-ish Polish bakery in Williamsburg. Let me do some research/make some calls and I'll post the name and location later. If the "Chowhound Team" sweeps in and deletes these comments for not being about Manhattan businesses, I'll post a new thread on the Outer Boroughs boards.

                          1. re: ballulah

                            Thanks, ballulah! I'd love the info, too.

                            Speaking of Polish treats, I did see some very tempting paczki at Kurowycky last weekend--I resisted the urge but perhaps I'll have to break down in the near future.

                            1. re: Calcifer

                              Pączki Day is right around the corner!

                              1. re: JungMann

                                I've been looking and looking for the card from the bakery in Williamsburg/Greenpoint, and I can't find it. Alas alack! Haha. I've never actually been there either, so I'm not sure where it is exactly to give you directions. There are some spots along Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint that look promising.

            2. re: Striver

              Stork's still makes good German specialties--honey bee cake, Black Forest, strudel, rye bread. But the shop and display window are not spick-and-span as they were under the iron rule of Mrs. Stork.

              The Tulip Bake Shop, in Floral Park, Long Island, is another neighborhood bakery along these lines.

            3. i don't know if any of the old german bakeries in the upper east side's yorkville section still exist - i'd imagine that they're all long gone - but there are a couple of places that i believe are still around in queens. if i'm wrong about the following, someone please chime in as i haven't been to either in the longest time:

              rudy's bakery
              905 seneca ave at catalpa ave, ridgewood, queens
              718 821 5890
              bienenstich and pfefferneusse are recommended, though i'm not sure if they'll have everything you're looking for.

              bauer's bakeshop
              64-59 dry harbor rd at 64th rd, middle village, queens
              718 326 1579
              also has a range of german baked goods, incl. german pretzels

              ridgewood, glendale, and middle village used to be great german neighborhoods, but unfortunately that's not the case anymore. if you visit these neighborhoods (glendale in particular) you'll see a few vestiges of the old german presence, including a couple of traditional restaurants like zum stammtisch and von westernhagen and german butcher shops like karl ehmer, forest pork store, and moescher's.

              1. There is an Andre's Cafe on 2nd Ave between 84th and 85th that has a range of strudel and some other Hungarian-type sweets, plus sandwiches, etc. Never bought there, though.

                1. the East Village has a lot of Polish places which sell cakes--1st Avenue between St. Mark's--check this area out--they look good-also 2nd Avenue between St. Mark's and 9th St. some sausage/butcher shops sell cakes as well-let me know what you think--they are reasonably priced-

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: marlie202

                    Unfortunately, most of these are sawdust offerings with icing or powdered sugar. The East Village only has vestiges of the Polish community that has since crossed the river. For Viennese style cakes and pastries you really need to find a dedicated spot.